Even as the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has suggested available plots for construction of a new Parliament House,sources in the government on Sunday told The Indian Express that there was no plan to shift Parliament to a new building. A large section of MPs,including those from the ruling Congress and the BJP,are also learnt to have indicated their opposition to any move to shift Parliament to a new location.
The entire issue has been misunderstood. While there is certainly the issue of the fire hazard and the building being old,there is no plan to shift Parliament to a new building, said a senior functionary.
In a letter to the secretaries general of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and to the Union Ministry of Urban Development,CPWD chief engineer S K Srivastava,while pointing out that the 85-year-old Parliament building has already outlived its useful life,suggested options where a new building could come up.
These sites include a plot near Vijay Chowk where temporary barracks of the Union Ministry of Defence exist,a plot on the Eastern side of the existing Parliament House which also houses barracks of the MoD,and the area adjacent to Gurdwara Rakabganj where some government bungalows stand.
But,even though Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has decided to set up a high-powered committee to suggest an alternative complex for the two Houses,sources said many senior government functionaries as well as a large section of MPs are not too enthused with the idea.
When contacted,Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said,The building needs to be rejuvenated. After all,it is an old building. We certainly need to preserve this building. But the answer to such preservation does not lie in not using it. We have to ensure that it is used properly. My understanding of the situation is that there is no plan to shift Parliament to a new building. Rather,the issue is how to preserve the building and use it as it was conceived when it was constructed.
Asked how the government or the Parliament administration would deal with the fire safety issue,which has led to the closure of the Parliament canteens,Bansal said this issue could be sorted out by not doing the cooking inside the building.